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I recently asked a question on http://boardgames.stackexchange.com/ and a moderator decided to merge it with another question that they thought matched the same criteria.

Another moderator then proceeded to merge all of the answers to my original question into one mega Community Wiki answer.

I posted this post on the meta site to voice my disapproval. (This is just some background info for you, it's not my aim to debate that here and start a meta-meta argument.)

What I would like to discuss is merging other peoples' answers into a single CW answer and why I think this is wrong. (I'm not sure if 10k or admins can view, but my answer and others were deleted.)

  1. There is no longer any credit given in terms of that persons name being mentioned alongside the answer.

  2. There is no longer any future credit given in terms of upvotes. (No way to say thanks in an answer.)

  3. Information is lost when the answer is shortened (although this may be appropriate in some/most answers for CW)

  4. No chance to comment or debate points in the answer (although this may not be appropriate in some/most answers for CW). e.g. 'I just checked out the link and noticed for Catan, although its an online version you still need to download software'

I'd be also interested to know if that effects a users' rights under the CC license? I guess you can either have my answer and "remix" it according to the license, but you still need to attribute it?

I have no big interest in the rep, but I feel uncomfortable about everyones collective work being uncredited for the sake of a single point list answer.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

see:

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2009/02/mixing-oil-and-water-authorship-in-a-wiki-world.html

but in general I agree with you, I don't like mega-merged-answers for a variety of reasons.

However, if all the answers are very short then I can support merging. I prefer answers that have some explanation and context around them, for the reasons described in:

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective/

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But the attribution, the ability to comment and ability to vote on an answer sometimes provide that context. There are many SE questions that start with "What is blah, blah..." please provide on answer per answer. If this falls into the good subjective, it seems to defy both the asker and the answerer to merge them into a single answer. –  xiaohouzi79 Jan 17 '11 at 4:31
    
@xiao so long as the answers have at least 2 reasonably-sized paragraphs of content, that might be OK. If they are shorter than that, they are suspect, see above links. –  Jeff Atwood Jan 17 '11 at 4:41
    
But under the terms of the CC license, if they are suspect shouldn't you just not use them? Once you copy and paste my answer and delete my attribution aren't you effectively using my answer without the attribution? –  xiaohouzi79 Jan 17 '11 at 4:44
    
For reference, my original answer mentioned the site, the fact that the site had a premium service and a link to the exact page on the site where you can access the online game without having to navigate from the home page. It also had 6 up votes e.g. some sort of community acceptance. To reduce this to a single line seems to go against what this site claims it does. The base issue here is not about my question, its about allowing user contributed content to be distilled and displayed without attribute. –  xiaohouzi79 Jan 17 '11 at 5:32

Isn't your goal to just have great answers? If a CW answer without your participation reaches that goal, then what is the problem?

I often edit in an image or some additional information to 'upgrade' other user's answers (disclosure: I'm a mod!) and it only shows I edited it, but that's about it. In the end, I'm just happy to have helped and that's what counts most.

Who knows, next time somebody will 'upgrade' your answer and you get to enjoy all the attribution!

And for the record, regarding the CC-wiki: the data dump contains the complete revision history, so the data is there, it's just not visible to every user. So I would stop worrying and instead go answer more questions!

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Ah, if the aim of the site was to only have great answers then why give anyone credit? I thought one of the aims of the site was to give credit where credit was due, that's why there is reputation built into the system. Also my answer wasn't edited, it was copied and pasted into someone elses answer and then deleted! I'm not sure if deleted answers appear in the data dump? –  xiaohouzi79 Jan 16 '11 at 22:38
    
Also you mention a CW answer without my participation. I can understand if you don't like my answer and delete, that is fine. But this is a CW answer with my participation, but without giving me credit. –  xiaohouzi79 Jan 16 '11 at 22:46
    
When someone 'upgrade's my answer I don't get all the attribution, they have attribution in the edit section. What I do get is upvotes which I don't personally care for and are also somewhat meaningless in a CW. –  xiaohouzi79 Jan 17 '11 at 5:45
    
@xiaohouzi79 I didn't say that this should happen to all questions, this particular type of question just lends itself better for a community effort than that of separate users on their own. So I stand by my point that in such cases, you should worry as much –  Ivo Flipse Jan 17 '11 at 7:40

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